AI excels at streamlining repetitive tasks, adding quantity - but humans bring quality.
Today, we are at the crossroads of seeing the promise and the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in all sectors.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) brings with it promise and fear, but in order for it to make a positive impact on the future of media and publishing, human capital and creativity is still necessary.
This was one of the main points made by Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence of the UAE, while giving the opening speech at the 13th World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) Middle East Conference in Dubai.
"We also feel the fear of being irrelevant or obsolete by AI. I think that understanding the change and its potential is as important as being part of this change," he said.
Opening the two-day conference by clarifying that he was not there "bearing good or bad news", Al Olama said he wanted to share with the audience some facts, and possibly some perspective.
In discussing the need to embrace AI now, Al Olama pointed to the development of electronic media, stressing: "I can summarise my speech in two words: change and potential. Neither change nor potential have positive or negative connotations, but they can bring with them either tremendous promise of positive change - or the fear of being negatively impacted by Artificial Intelligence."
Noting the revolutionary changes that the journalism, news and press industry has gone through over the decades (namely the invention of the printing press, the dawn of the computer age, and the dawn of the Internet age), the AI Minister said that news as a sector has always been a "one tone industry where the readers only read the news".
With the fourth revolution, the AI revolution, it is going to be bigger and more profound than all three that came before it.
"It is going to bring us to a stage where we will be able to give tailor-made news to the reader. We can get rid of repetitive, automated daily tasks and really focus on human creativity. Humans are always looking to leverage technology to become better, so let's continue doing that."
To date, nearly 8,000 automated stories are produced and published each day, globally. Although this might frighten some for their jobs, Al Olama said a lot of positives can come from such a development.
Despite these positives, many question the true staying power of quality journalism in an age dominated by automation.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Majed Al Suwaidi, Managing Director, Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City, Dubai Production City, said as with any revolution in years gone by, they haven't affected people negatively.
"Humans are very adaptable, they have always adapted. On the contrary, developments like AI and social media have actually brought new opportunities for people, not negative ones."
As for creating content, that will always depend on people.
"The type of information aggregated is what drives the reader, and this is done by the individual. AI is excellent at smoothing and streamlining repetitive tasks, adding quantity, but humans bring quality."
The WAN-IFRA Middle East Conference discusses strategies around managing news rooms' business model transformations by driving digital revenue through quality journalism.